Spaying your Dog

The technical name for a bitch spay is an ovariohysterectomy, which means the removal of the ovaries and uterus (womb). You will, more commonly, hear people saying that their dog has been neutered, spayed or dressed.

No food after midnight the previous evening, although water is allowed overnight.
Please arrive between 8.30am & 9am. Please toilet your pet prior to arrival.


When should I spay my bitch?

There are 2 different chains of thought regarding timing of spaying a bitch – either before or after her first season, but she has to be 5 months of age.  The advantages & disadvantages are discussed later in this leaflet.

Older bitches are similarly spayed midway between seasons; a minimum of 2 months after the bleeding has stopped.

We cannot spay bitches who are in or who have just finished a season as there can be a great increase in bleeding during and after surgery.

We are always ready to discuss your individual requirements and feelings, to decide what is best for your bitch.

What are the advantages?

The main advantage is that your bitch will not come into season every six months. This will save you any mess associated with the seasons and will stop the persistent amorous advances of the neighbourhood male dogs allowing you to exercise your pet freely, all year round, without running the risk of her getting pregnant and producing unwanted puppies.

Ovarian Cancer is a relatively uncommon, but potentially fatal disease that is prevented by spaying

Another advantage is a reduction in the incidence and severity of mammary tumours. Mammary tumours or breast cancer is very common in the unspayed older bitch and early spaying drastically reduces the risk. Mammary tumours are almost never seen in bitches spayed before the first season (approx 94% reduction). The risk is thought to be reduced by approximately 60% in bitches spayed between the first and second season.

Prevention of pyometra is another major benefit of spaying. Pyometra is an infection of the uterus which occurs in later life, characterised by the filling of the uterus with pus. Generally they start with excessive drinking and urination and go on to show profound depression and inappetence often as a result of liver and kidney damage and finally they succumb to septic shock and death. Fortunately a high proportion of pyometra bitches receive surgery in time, to remove the infected uterus but the surgery is longer, more dangerous and the recovery slower. A few are presented too late or are too frail to survive surgery and as a result die from the condition.

Sometimes bitches are spayed to “settle their temperament”. It is a difficult subject to quantify, but some highly strung bitches do seem to improve after the operation.

What are the disadvantages?

Spaying, although a routine procedure for small animal veterinary surgeons, is a major operation, involving entry into the abdominal cavity. A small number of animals have problems with anaesthetics, the operation itself and with post operative haemorrhage. This can result from too much activity, dislodging one of the internal blood vessel ties. Surgical experience, good nursing help and careful supervision does reduce the risk but that risk cannot be totally eliminated.

There is a higher proportion of overweight spayed dogs compared to their entire counterparts. There is no doubt that a spayed dog requires less food for a given weight and activity level. We suggest reducing the amount fed by 15-20% immediately after stitches out. It is easier to increase the food for dogs that lose a little weight than to diet those who have become overweight. We encourage weight checking and weigh your dog at each annual vaccination so that fine tuning of food intake can be made.

Energy requirements of neutered animals goes up by 30-35% within 24hours of their operation, making them want to eat more – no reason for this has been discovered yet, which is why we advise reducing their food straight away. With proper management, there is no reason for any weight gain as a result of spaying.

Other disadvantages are that there is an increased risk of urinary incontinence in spayed bitches compared to their entire counterpart. This is not particularly common and usually responds to diet and medicines and occasionally surgery.   It has not been determined if this is an effect of the surgery or because spayed bitches, generally, live longer, although the latter is thought to be true.

Also some owners feel that the coat of some of the longer haired breeds can become excessively “woolly” after spaying. Whether this is a genuine phenomenon, or simply normal coat changes associated with ageing, is not clear.

The consent form

We shall ask you, or an authorised adult, for written permission to perform the operation on your pet. We make time to guide you through the consent form so that we can explain any terms that you do not understand or are worried about.

We ask you to come in before the date of operation, so we can ensure you fully understand the consent form and give you time to ask any questions you may have.  You may request a financial estimate at this appointment, either printed or verbal.

The operation

All pets undergoing surgery at A+G Vets have an analgesic (painkiller) as part of their premeditation, so that they are more comfortable and therefore less frightened when they wake up.

We allocate each pet an individual kennel. The kennels are warm and sound insulated and each has a lightweight polyester fleece for warmth and comfort. All animals are within sight of the nursing team, allowing prompt intervention, if required.

Pre-Anaesthetic Blood Sample

Some problems cannot be determined by physical examination alone and we have the facility to perform a pre anaesthetic blood screen to determine whether there is damage to the liver or kidney function. We have a modern blood analyser and results are available within 15 minutes, allowing any adjustments to be made in the anaesthetic protocol.   We would strongly recommend this for older patients or ones who have a pre-existing illness.

Fluid Therapy

As is routine in human hospitals, we can provide intravenous fluid support (a drip) for our patients. We believe this benefits all pets and allows them to make a stronger and speedier recovery.  Although all patients would benefit from this, we would strongly recommend this for older patients or ones with a pre-existing illness

Care of surgical wounds

Wounds do not normally require any attention except for you preventing your pet licking excessively at the wound, or removing the stitches. We provide a clear, plastic buster collar and we would recommend that your pet wears it at all times. We have to make a charge for re suturing wounds, often involving another anaesthetic, if stitches have been lost as a result of a lack of supervision.

We also recommend lead exercise only, for a minimum of ten days, until the stitches are removed.  Over-exercise will lead to a fluid filled swelling around the wound, which may require to be drained.

Stitches out

We normally remove stitches after ten days, although we may advise that they stay in longer, depending on the size or position of the wound. Occasionally, there may be a need for intra-dermal sutures – these are dissolving sutures and do not need to be removed.  We may also use a special tissue glue which does not need to be removed, as it will disappear naturally over time.

Contact us if you are worried.

When your dog is discharged you will receive instruction as how to receive advice during the evening.  We have 24 hour out-of-hour emergency care, call 07718 424688

Scroll to Top
Contact us

If you would like to contact us, please use the details below.

Emergencies Out of Hours Call 01324 815888